In the city where beer is cheaper than water, what is a gluten free girl to do?
Long story short, I ate well in Prague, but it wasn’t without effort. Unlike other cities I’ve visited (such as Marrakech), you can’t just pop into any restaurant and rely on the menu’s naturally gluten free options. They don’t exist! The traditional Czech dishes revolve around beer, dumplings, and meat that’s either fried or swimming in an ale-infused, flour-thickened sauce. You’ll be hard pressed finding a salad in Prague.
So if you’re gluten free and going to Prague, you’ll need a plan and I’m here to help! Below I’ll tell you the best gluten free options for traditional Czech food, non-Czech food, cafés and bakeries, and miscellaneous advice/what NOT to do.
On second thought maybe I shouldn’t have put this first as you could go to Prague and ONLY eat here the whole time. This is the #1 place anyone on a gluten free diet NEEDS to go to in Prague! It’s a traditional establishment that offers a normal menu as well as a gluten free menu, and pretty much everything on the normal menu is available gluten free! This includes dumplings, two types of beer, all of the meat sauces, schnitzel, apple strudel, pancakes, and more. We ate here twice and I would 100% recommend to anyone! It’s also non-smoking, and the bartender was really interesting to talk to, both positives in my book! (Just make sure you go to the Svejk U Karla one and not the other Svejk as it doesn’t have a GF menu!)
Although U Magistra Kelly’s gluten free menu pales in comparison to Svejk U Karla, it makes up for it with its low prices, and secluded, authentic atmosphere. On the other side of the bridge (Mala Strana), Kelly is away from the hustle and bustle. We went to it with no expectations (we wanted to check it out as Dan’s friends liked it/Kelly is his nickname), so I was SO surprised to see gluten free items marked on the menu! They offer two starters and two mains, as well as rice bread, as gluten free options. The second time we visited, their special was also gluten free (the waiter/bartender is really knowledgeable so that’s such a plus in my book…also only two people work here so you can expect to have the same waiter). They don’t have GF beer, but they do carry cider for a low price, which is unusual in Prague! People are allowed to smoke indoors, but it actually didn’t bother us as much as I was expecting. We also went here twice! It’s a great place to go, especially if you are traveling with non-GF companions who want to try out really authentic Czech food.
This is the only 100% gluten free restaurant in Prague…and it’s an Italian restaurant, lol. It’s located near Charles Bridge, so the prices are a bit higher than you’d find elsewhere, and it was our most expensive meal by far (still only £16 for a beer, a main, and a dessert!). I really enjoyed the risotto and the Celia beer, and loved that they stamped the dessert menu on the tablecloth (also that they had a dessert menu, period!). Although it’s not exactly an “authentic” experience, I’d recommend Alriso because 1) it’s good food with lots of options that are guaranteed to be safe, and 2) it’s great if you get sick of the meat + beer diet that the Czechs love!!
Hotel Grandium (previously named Hotel Yasmin, updated 20/10/17)
Not actually a restaurant, but if you are looking for a place to stay, I was pleasantly surprised by our hotel! It’s a 4 star hotel in Prague 1 that’s quite cheap (yay Prague prices!) and breakfast is included in the cost. I didn’t bother contacting the hotel ahead of time about GF options because I figured it was such a long shot, and I knew I could get fruit at a buffet. It turns out that there was not only an omelette station, but also a basket of gluten free bread and pastries, and special gluten free granola! Happy, happy, happy Sarah.
**I actually only got coffee at all of these cafes, but many of them had GF options…I was just too full!!**
This is lauded as the “best cafe in Prague” by a lot of different sources – it’s also the establishment which is credited for the comeback of the Karlin neighborhood, a once rough area of Prague that is now seeing an economic/cultural rebirth. We could definitely see why, as this was a vvvvvvery hip cafe, super crowded, and we waited about 15 minutes to be seated on a Sunday morning. Their menu is full of specialty coffees, juices, and they carry lots of gluten free cakes and brunches. The staff also spoke English very well so I was confident asking them about the menu. We actually just ordered coffee here as we were stuffed from breakfast at our hotel – but it definitely was a gluten free friendly place.
Prague’s one and only CAT CAFE!! Who knew?! Certainly not us, as we actually found this place by accident while exploring Karlin. It’s a bit further out from Prague’s center, but such a funny/unique experience. We both just ordered coffees and played with the cats, but their menu does list allergens, so I know I could’ve ordered a salad (which is actually a feat in this city). There was a 20kc cover charge which we weren’t actually told about/wasn’t signposted beforehand, which irked me, but even if I’d known we still would’ve paid it because KITTIES.
This is actually the cafe that I went to pay for my gluten free nut cake and realized I had lost my wallet…WHOOPS. So, I didn’t actually get to eat anything here, but there are raving reviews for this place. They had multiple gluten free sweets and cakes, the coffees looked amazing, the atmosphere was super chic/hipster, it has a good location (near Charles Bridge), and oh yeah…the staff are babes, as they let me use their personal phone to call the Monastery I left my wallet at, and then translated Czech for me…without me paying them anything (due to the whole wallet situ).
This is a little cafe along the main road parallel to the river in Mala Strana. We actually didn’t eat any food here so I can’t vouch for gluten free-ness, but it was the best coffee we tasted all weekend. So if you’re in the mood for good coffee, stop here! Just giving it a shout out as it was super cute and the waitress was so sweet.
Soooo, as we know, Prague is the city where beer is cheaper than water (seriously, I think they’re so proud of this phrase, but it’s true). As far as gluten free beer goes, I was able to try Celia (at Svejk U Karla and Alriso) and Bernard’s (we only saw this sold at Svejk U Karla). Personally, I preferred the Celia which was crisp and light and supposedly like an IPA… the Bernard’s was much more “ale” like according to Dan and I couldn’t finish it as the hoppy aftertaste was too much. Clearly, though, I am not much of a beer aficionado (due to the whole, you know, gluten free situation), so that’s just my personal opinion. If you’re into cider, you won’t find it many places in Prague, and when you do it will be much more pricy than beer. I got a quite good price for Kingswood Apple Cider at U Magistra Kelly, though, for only 40kc!
Alright, some final notes for you all on my discoveries eating gluten free in Prague (oh…and also some notes on what NOT to do)…
We attempted eating here but you clearly needed a reservation and it was a bit too fancy for us. However I ran into a gluten free couple on our last night, who said that they loved it here and they had gluten free bread! I would definitely try eating here if I go to Prague again, I would just plan ahead better. It’s one of Prague’s most well known restaurants, located along the river on the Mala Strana side.
We passed this place in Mala Strana whilst going up to Prague Castle… It advertises (vegan) gluten free burgers! It sounded nice, but we wanted to stick with more traditional Czech food so we didn’t try it.
The Blog Posts Lied AKA Closed Restaurants
I read some really great gluten free guides to Prague before our visit (which I have linked below), but unfortunately most of these posts are quite old!! Which means that actually a lot of the gluten free restaurants they mention NO LONGER EXIST. So, don’t make the same mistake as us and spend 30 minutes walking in circles trying to find a restaurant that it turns out has been closed for years. These included Little Whale Restaurant/U Male Velybry and Na zlaté křižovatce. Very sad as these places both looked incredible!
For God’s sake, do. not. go. to. U Karla IV. This restaurant has 5-6 tripadvisor reviews stating how amazing its gluten free menu is. The other reviews mention how it’s frequented by locals, secluded, and really authentic…Dan was on a mission for traditional Czech food and I needed to, you know, not die by flour/beer/etc, so it sounded IDEAL. We walked over a mile in the freezing darkness to find it (in a kinda sketchy area…at least it seemed so with our imaginations running wild at night), to be greeted by a waitress who literally laughed in my face when I used google translate to ask about the famous gluten free menu that was looking less and less likely… she informed me that their “gluten free option” was…….. some cheese. Yup. I have since figured out that probably those tripadvisor reviews were from people trying to review Svejk U Karla (the first restaurant in this post), and as the name is similar they got confused. Even now, looking over the photos people posted for this restaurant, I recognize some of the scenery and GF signs belonging to Svejk U Karla. Learn from my mistakes!!!
Posts I read before my visit…
Taste of Prague – Their Guide to Gluten Free Prague
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